Freija Poll loopt stage bij Catching Cultures Orchestra voor haar masterstudie Musicology en is een enorme hulp voor dit project. Ze organiseert onze muzikale samenwerking tussen ons orkest en het Overvechtse STUT-koor, waarmee we optreden op het Catching Cultures Orchestra Festival komende zondag 3 juni; ook helpt en observeert ze tijdens de muziekavonden in Plan Einstein en doet onderzoek naar de communicatie, het bereik en de betekenis van onze activiteiten voor onze deelnemers. Op basis van haar ervaringen schreef ze een paar artikelen in het Engels, die we ook graag met jullie delen. Hierbij de derde!
Catch people and give them place in a society full of music
‘’Do you go to a park? For example, you can see a lot of flowers there. They are different and they have a lot of different colours but all of them together make a beautiful view for you. You enjoy them because they are different with different colour. Like a music group from different cultures. Together they are a good unity and they have a beautiful outcome I think.’’ (Interview with a female refugee Orchestra member)
This is a quote from one of the interviews I did during my internship. I think it beautifully describes what can happen if people of different cultures come together, something I also tried to arrange during my collaboration with the STUT choir. In this blog I want to give some examples of the activities I did during my internship to demonstrate how music might bring people together. As you might already know, my internship at Catching Cultures Orchestra does not only consist of helping with the musical evenings in an AZC at Tuesday evenings. It also consists of organising an collaboration between our orchestra members and a local music group in the neighbourhood where this AZC is located; Overvecht. Furthermore I am also doing research among participants of our activities who are both members of the orchestra and participants of the musical evening at Tuesday in the AZC.
After considering some musical groups for the collaboration I have organised between some members of Catching Cultures Orchestra and another local music group, I decided to do my collaboration with the STUT choir, a choir in witch everybody is welcome to come and sing together. Most notably is that they have even welcomed forensic psychiatric patients in their choir and help them re-integrate in the society by singing in a play about them. Also, they perform as part of the STUT theatre productions to tell the stories of homeless, ex-prostitutes, lonely elderly and bullied youngsters.
Because of this I was curious if this choir could also help refugees integrate in our society a little bit. Musical activities can be so important in start doing this because, for example people living in an AZC are optimistic about their situation when the do partake in daily activities and make social connections with others at their home-country and in the new surroundings.  Also meaningful daily activities and contacts within and outside the AZC are important aspects for refugees because it reduces stress among them or make them feel more secure and less lonely. Therefore, they want to connect with people outside the centre without being afraid not to be understood or being discriminated. Music can be a good way to do so because music is regarded by artists and builders of peace as a universal langue that can facilitate communications, understanding and empathy across differences of all kind and it can build bridges.
This is also something I encountered during my research. The orchestra members and participants at the musical evenings, I interviewed, also say they see music as an universal language. Because of this they think it can connect people, make them feel less stressed or less lonely. For example one of my respondent said:
‘’I experience the first two moths here [in the AZC] as I was sitting at the room all of the time and it was not a good thing to do. To just sit in the room and I was all the time watching YouTube or Facebook or doing social media or things like that, it was not so good. So just to be out is the most important, I think. There are people in the evening [the musical evening] with witch I don’t talk but we, they are like, their faces are familiar with me because they attend her. I see them in the AZC and I don’t know their names even but I remember that we met in this night’’ (Interview with a female Syrian participant at the musical evenings)
Also my Dutch respondents mention that music can make it easier for them connect with refugees because there is less of a language barrier then. For example one of them said, music could connect people because:
‘’It [music] connects anyway. That you can come from very different parts of the world and that the music is a similarity after all’’ (Interview with a male Dutch Orchestra member)
And also my refugee participants often said to me that they saw music as an universal language that connects as one of them for example said:
‘’It[ music] doesn’t care about the language. Music is all of the languages and it doesn’t matter about that. Sometime you can hear Chinese and you just you like it, you feel it. And you didn’t know what is the meaning. Because music is music’’ (Interview with a male refugee Orchestra member).
So this are some first indicator that music is really meaningful for our refugee participants and Dutch participants in the orchestra or during or musical sessions in the AZC. If you want to know more about this and how Catching Cultures Orchestra might can improve how meaningful their activities will be in the future, you have to wait till next month. At the end of next month I will publish my final policy advice article form my internship instead of a blog, in witch I will tell more about this. For now I just want to say I am really looking forward to the collaboration with the STUT choir. I want to see how people, but also the different musical styles as we will incorporate percussions, wind instrumentalist and western singers, will come together. It will be one way to create a beautiful pallet of musical flowers for sure, at the festival of Catching Cultures Orchestra at Sunday 3 June. Also, I am curious how the audience, who are mostly refugees, will react as it might can make them feel a little bit more incorporated in the Dutch society.
 ten Holder, de Boer, and Halleh Ghorashi. 2012. ‘’Kleine stappen van grote betekenis: een nieuw perspectief op humane opvang van asielzoekers.’’ Vrijen Universiteit Amsterdam.
 Kramer, Sander. 2010. ‘’Zorg voor Asielzoekers met Psychische Problemen: het perspectief van de azielzoeker.’’ ZAPP; een initiatief van het ASKV/steunpunt Vluchtelingen.
 Strijk, van Meijel, and Claudia J. Gamel. 2010. ‘’Health and social needs of traumatized refugees and asylum seekers: An exploratory study.’’ Perspectives in psychiatric care 47 (1): 48-55.
 Cohen,Cynthia. 2008. ‘’Music: A universal language?’’. In Music and conflict transformation: Harmonies and dissonances in geopolitics,edited by Olivier Urbain, 26-39. IB Tauris.